With rain threatening, roughly 100 riders took the line for a mass start Red Hook night crit in Brooklyn, NY this past Saturday night, 24 March. With a 9:15pm start time, and variably lit ‘urban’ course around Brooklyn’s cruise ship terminal, the race is one part night crit, and one part alley cat race, that now holds infamous status.
The Red Hook Crit used to be a pure alley cat (with racers dodging traffic as well as fellow competitors), however, now in its fifth edition the underground nature of the race has given way to big crowds and a unique draw to racers around the nation.
Even still, it retains much of its original charms: riders still compete on brakeless fixed gear bikes; the single race includes men and women riders in the same bunch, and — by any stretch — the course is as challenging as ever, however, just slightly safer, since its now closed to cars.
This year, the first few laps were rough-and-tumble with riders fighting hard to establish a lead group. As those in the raw-looking peloton grew tired there were a handful of crashes, mainly in the course’s tight chicane.
Three-time winner Dan Chabanov dumped the rest of the field about a third of the way through the 45-minute criterium and soloed to a 10-second victory
The San Francisco-based MASH team, Aaron Bradford of Santa Cruz, California added to the event’s national flair and proved protagonists for the duration of the event, but despite hard chasing by the lead group of about 20 riders, the local hero, Dan Chabanov —from Brooklyn — was able to maintain a steady gap all the way until the end of the race.
Women’s winner Kacey Manderfield was always a presence in the front group, sitting between fifth and 10th place for much of the event.